Working remotely isn't for everyone, but for those that it's a good fit for, I have some tips to share.
I've been working for myself since 2013 and it's one of the best decisions I've made and I’ve learned a few things along the way.
1. Plan Tomorrow, Today
This shouldn't be overlooked. It's easy to say at the end of your day 'oh, I'll deal with planning tomorrow' but what you're really doing is setting yourself up for failure from the start.
A couple of tools that I like to use are a large notebook and a whiteboard. At the end of everyday, I plan tomorrow on a new fresh page in my notebook. I list out my top 3 MUST DO tasks and then my SHOULD DO tasks as well. In another list, I have my COULD DOs which are tasks that need to be attended to but aren't urgent yet.
The whiteboard is a nice compliment to the notebook because it's easy to erase things and reflow your day if you need to.
If you don't have a whiteboard, watch Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace. I found a stand up whiteboard for $10 (which is a steal, but perhaps you can find something reasonably priced too).
If you work with the Virtual Guru's, then you'll also have access to their amazing project management software.
2. Private Work Space
It's important to have your own space, without distractions, for working. In addition to a home office, I like to go to a local coffee shop to mix it up. Sometimes the noise and action can help me focus, it just depends what I am working on.
Make sure your partner, family and/or roommates respect your time and space when you are in the office. Distractions can set you back quickly and time is valuable when you're working by the hour. I like to encourage people to have as much natural light as possible AND good lighting at night when the sun goes down.
A quick and easy way to drastically improve your environment is to purchase a diffuser and get a couple nice oils. Personally, I use Thieves oil because it also helps me stay healthy during cold and flu season.
Tidy your desk every evening once you are done your planning for tomorrow.
If you want to keep clients happy, communicate with them. The worst thing you can do is let things go for too long. They won't feel cared for and could reach out to management to complain. If you frequently touch base and see how they are doing, it keeps everyone happy (and most of all it keeps your stress down).
Be honest about what you can do for them and more than likely they will understand. No one likes false promises or to be ignored.
4. Move your body
Get up and move around every 45-minutes. It stimulates all sorts of things in your body including your brain, which you likely need to use ;)
Going to the gym in the morning is one of the best things you can do for yourself AND for your clients. You will be fresh, happy and energized throughout the day.
Movement also keeps you healthy so that you don't have to take any time off and if you do take time off it's for something you planned and enjoy versus laying in bed watching Netflix. There is a time and place for that of course, but ideally not when people are waiting for tasks to be completed.
Find some really great music to inspire and carry you through the day.
I find music without lyrics (there are so many great artists on SoundCloud) is perfect for working.
I only listen to music with lyrics if I am being visually creative; otherwise, I want all of my focus on what I am working on. Lyrics tend to distract, especially if you know the song and want to sing along.
DJ Recommendation: Check out an artist on SoundCloud called Dopese; he mixes beautiful, chill beats with a lot of tribal and worldly influence.
Remember, at the end of the day you want to incorporate the skills and habits that make you the most productive, and inject a little fun along the way.
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See you on the inside.